Robert Riley Saunders. —Image: Facebook

Robert Riley Saunders. —Image: Facebook

3 more Indigenous youth sue B.C. social worker for exploitation

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of taking money from youths in his care

Three more civil suits have been filed against a Kelowna social worker accused of stealing from Aboriginal children who were in his care when he worked for the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development.

The civil suits, filed against Robert Riley Saunders in Kelowna earlier this week, are in addition to a pair of similar civil suits filed against him earlier this month.

Saunders no longer works for the ministry or as a social worker. He now works under contract at Okanagan College in Kelowna in adult special education.

The three new lawsuits allege Saunders took money from joint bank accounts he set up with the youths, some of whom are now adults, when they were in his care as a ministry employee.

RELATED: Lawsuits allege B.C. government social worker stole from foster children

In addition to Saunders, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and his direct supervisor at the time, Siobhan Stymes, a team leader with the ministry, are also named in the new lawsuits.

The suits state Stymes had “direct knowledge of the theft of monies from the plaintiff and had direct knowledge of the emotional and psychological abuse inflicted on the plaintiff by Robert Riley Saunders.”

In addition to alleging Saunders took money from the joint accounts, the lawsuits claim he was “verbally and emotionally abusive” to the three plaintiffs while he worked with them and “succeeded in undermining their self-confidence and self esteem.”

They also claim he undermined their belief that they might be entitled to any form of financial support from the state for their “subsistence level of material well-being, such as food, clothing and shelter.”

The plaintiffs claim they were exposed to periods without food, street homelessness and illicit drug use, using drugs such as methamphetamine and crack cocaine, as a result of Saunders’ and Stymes’ actions. One plaintiff also claimed she was sexually exploited as a result their actions.

Following news of the first civil suits filed against Saunders, B.C.’s Representative of Children and Youth said 14 files had been opened by her office investigating the allegations.

RELATED: Ministry of Children and Family Development issues comment on Kelowna social worker accused of ripping off youth in care

According to the ministry, financial irregularities were brought to its attention in December 2017 and it sent the issue to the office of the comptroller general. In January 2018, the ministry said steps were taken to ensure “the immediate safety and well-being of the children and youth and their families.”

The same month, B.C.’s comptroller general launched an investigation to determine if fraud had been committed and the ministry hired a financial consultant to review the case and suggest changes financial and internal controls. Changes have now been made, it said.

Ministry staff are no longer able to initiate or print cheques without the involvement of a second staff member and the ministry plans to launch a separate review of its contracting and payment process.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements’ invention La Méduse (the Jellyfish) removes oil from the ocean. The invention was one of 15 out of 700 inventions submitted to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Little Inventors contest. (Cole Schisler photo)
‘Little Inventors’ from Ladysmith showcased in national science challenge

Évangeline Laforest and Oscar McClements were one of 15 finalists in the Little Inventors Challenge

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read